black belt defender logo

free shipping on orders over $49

We're having a 15% off sale on all our products. Enter your email below to be notified about future sales.

credit card logos
American Kenpo Ed Parker

American Kenpo Karate is a self-defense system that was developed in the United States by Ed Parker in the early 1950s. It is a hybrid martial art that combines elements of Okinawan karate, Chinese kung fu, and Western boxing.

The principles of American Kenpo are based on the following:

  • Balance: Balance is essential for both offense and defense. It allows you to move quickly and efficiently, and it helps you to maintain your composure in a fight.
  • Breathing: Breathing is closely related to balance. When you breathe correctly, you can move more efficiently and you are less likely to tire.
  • Centerline: The centerline is an imaginary line that runs down the center of your body. It is a vital target for your opponent, and it is also a valuable tool for you to use to defend yourself.
  • Efficiency: The techniques are designed to be simple and effective, and they require minimal movement and energy.
  • Flowing Movement: Techniques are designed to flow smoothly from one to the next. This allows you to defend yourself against multiple attackers, and it also makes your techniques more difficult for your opponent to defend against.
  • Power: American Kenpo techniques are designed to be powerful. They are designed to cause maximum damage to your opponent with minimum risk to yourself.
  • Speed: They are designed to catch your opponent off guard, and they also make it more difficult for your opponent to defend against them.
  • Timing: Timing is essential for both offense and defense. It allows you to strike your opponent when they are least expecting it, and it also allows you to defend yourself against their attacks.
  • Trajectory: The trajectory of a technique is the path that it takes from start to finish. In American Kenpo, the trajectories of the techniques are designed to maximize their effectiveness.
  • Unification: The principles of American Kenpo are unified. They all work together to create a comprehensive and effective self-defense system.
  • Weapons: The American Kenpo system has techniques to defend against and utilize various weapons, including knives, sticks/clubs, and firearms. The use of other non-lethal self-defense weapons such as pepper spray or stun guns can also easily be incorporated.


Parker was born in Hawaii in 1931 and began studying karate at the age of 13. He later traveled to Okinawa to study with several of the leading karate masters of the time. In the early 1950s, Parker moved to California and began teaching karate. He soon developed his own unique style of karate, which he called American Kenpo Karate.

American Kenpo Karate is a striking-based art that emphasizes the use of linear and circular punches, kicks, elbows, and knees. It also includes a variety of grappling techniques, such as throws, joint locks, and chokes.

One of the strengths of American Kenpo Karate is its emphasis on self-defense. Parker believed that martial arts should be used for self-protection, not for competition. As a result, American Kenpo Karate is taught with a strong focus on practical application.

Another strength of American Kenpo Karate is its versatility. The art is adaptable to a variety of different body types and fighting styles. This makes it a good choice for both men and women, and for people of all ages.

American Kenpo Karate has been used effectively in self-defense situations by many people. Parker himself was once attacked by a group of men and was able to defend himself using his Kenpo skills.

If you are looking for a martial art that is effective for self-defense and that is adaptable to a variety of body types, then American Kenpo Karate is a good option for you.

Here are some of the other strengths of American Kenpo Karate:

  • It is a comprehensive martial art that includes a variety of techniques from different styles.
  • It is a practical art that is designed to be used in self-defense situations.
  • It is a versatile art that can be adapted to a variety of body types and fighting styles.
  • It is a challenging art that can help you to develop physical fitness, self-discipline, and confidence.


If you are interested in learning more about American Kenpo Karate, many schools offer instruction in this art. You can find a school near you by searching online or by contacting the American Kenpo Karate Association.

American Kenpo is a comprehensive and effective self-defense system that can be used by people of all ages and abilities. It is a practical, efficient, and powerful system that can be used to defend yourself against a variety of attacks.

Incorrect Criticism of American Kenpo

Many people incorrectly criticize American Kenpo for having too many techniques. How are you supposed to remember 154, 160, or 200 techniques on the street and perform them by the book?

If that is your understanding, you would be correct in assuming that would be essentially impossible. Of course, you are mistaken anyways, but at face value you are correct. 

There are a few reasons why American Kenpo practitioners learn so many techniques.

  • To increase their options. The more techniques you know, the more options you have when you are in a self-defense situation. This is especially important in unpredictable situations, where you may not have time to think about the perfect technique.
  • To develop muscle memory. The more you practice a technique, the more ingrained it becomes in your muscle memory. This means that you will be able to execute the technique more quickly and efficiently when you need it.
  • To learn the principles of self-defense. American Kenpo is not just about learning techniques. It is also about learning the principles of self-defense, such as distance management, timing, and leverage. These principles are essential for effective self-defense, and they can be applied to any technique.
  • To improve their physical fitness. American Kenpo is a physically demanding martial art, as well as fighting in general. The constant practice of techniques helps to improve strength, flexibility, and endurance. This can be beneficial for both self-defense and general health.


Of course, there is no need to learn every technique in American Kenpo. However, learning a variety of techniques will give you a solid foundation in self-defense and help you to become a more effective martial artist.

Here are some additional benefits of learning many techniques in American Kenpo:

  • It teaches you how to think creatively in a fight. When you have a variety of techniques to choose from, you are less likely to panic in a self-defense situation. You will be able to assess the situation and choose the best technique for the moment.
  • It helps you to develop your own style. As you learn more techniques, you will start to develop your own unique style of fighting. This will allow you to use your strengths and weaknesses to your advantage.
  • It makes you more confident. The more techniques you know, the more confident you will be in your ability to defend yourself. This confidence will be evident in your body language and your interactions with others.


On the street, you are not going to perform a textbook, sequential technique of prescribed moves in a predetermined order. You develop an effective set of moves that flow together in that particular situation, tapping into your overall knowledge and piecing together snippets of techniques and sets as you see fit.

We have a saying in American Kenpo “I would rather fight with 10 techniques than have 100 techniques fight me.”

In reality, you will have 8-10 core “go-to fighting techniques”, with an infinite amount of addon moves depending on what is necessary. Bruce Lee said something to the effect of, “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who had practiced one kick 10,000 times.” Well, we are concentrating on 8-10. Bruce Lee also said “Absorb what is useful, discard what is useless, and add what is specifically your own.”

If you are interested in learning American Kenpo, I encourage you to find a reputable school and start training. You will be glad you did.

Just Do It.

No matter what style you choose, learning martial arts has many benefits like improved fitness levels and self-confidence. But most importantly, it teaches essential skills for self-defense. Different martial arts styles like karate, judo, and jiu-jitsu provide techniques and principles that prepare individuals to defend themselves in dangerous situations.

Training involves learning self-defense moves, sparring with other people, and practicing scenarios that can happen in real life. With regular training, martial artists improve their reaction time, speed, accuracy, and physical fitness, all of which are critical for self-defense. Martial arts training is suitable for people of all ages and abilities, and it could help you protect yourself if you ever face danger.

As always, be safe and be prepared.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *